Angler with biggest Calaveras redfish tells how to

beat his record.

by John Goodspeed

Fishing guides can be as secretive as the CIA when it comes to revealing where and how to catch fish.

But Manny Martinez, who holds the red drum record at Calaveras Lake, wants someone to knock him off his perch — and he’s telling everyone how to do it.

Now is the perfect time, too, with the fall spawn drawing thousands of redfish near the rocks at the dam, with the peak in October and the season going through mid-November.

“I’m not too far from retiring and I want to help other anglers, especially younger anglers,” said Martinez, who has been guiding at Calaveras and Braunig Lake since 1979. “I want them to hear from an old-timer, a professional guide from my generation, so the next generation can have fun in the future. Maybe a young kid will read this story and be inspired to a lifetime of fishing.”

He was out by himself for about six hours on Oct. 23, 2008, and ready to call it a day when he spied an oily slick from feeding redfish regurgitating next to the rocks at the dam.

“I casted right on top of it and counted to about 15 to let the lure sink, cranked twice and — pow! — he hit and I set the hook,” Martinez recalled. “It struck hard like any other big red. He took the line straight out.”

The fish would have stripped all the line off the spool if Martinez had not followed it with the trolling motor during the 25-minute fight. It swam around the boat twice and finally right into Martinez’s net. The handle broke as he lifted it in.

“It was a huge fish, but I was fixing to throw him back,” he said. “What caught my eye was its girth. I decided to put him in the live well and take him in. They weighed him and told me it was the lake record.”

The male redfish was 30 pounds, 41 inches long and had a 27-inch girth.

Today the mount hangs in Martinez’s family living room.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department compiles records by weight. The current state record for freshwater redfish was 36.83 pounds, 44 inches taken at Lake Fairfield on May 22, 2001.

Braunig’s record of 31.87 pounds, 41 inches was set on Aug. 22, 2010.

John Goodspeed is a freelance outdoors writer. Email john@johngoodspeed.com.

Using a variety of different colored spoons is recommended, such as Manny's Silver Spoon (from left) and Manny's Copper Spoon — both creations of fishing guide Manny Martinez and available at fishingwithmanny.com — and the Cotton Cardell in gold and Cabela's Casting Spoon in nickel. (John Goodspeed / For the Express-News)

Using a variety of different colored spoons is recommended, such as Manny’s Silver Spoon (from left) and Manny’s Copper Spoon — both creations of fishing guide Manny Martinez and available at fishingwithmanny.com — and the Cotton Cardell in gold and Cabela’s Casting Spoon in nickel. (John Goodspeed / For the Express-News)

Record-topping tactics

Manny Martinez caught his whopper redfish at Calaveras on a Magic Spoon on 12-pound test line with an Abu Garcia Revo S bait-casting reel on a 7-foot, medium heavy rod that no longer is manufactured. But what works one day may not the next, so he shares the following methods refined over more than three decades of guiding:

Recommended gear: A Shakespeare Ugly Stick 7-foot, medium-heavy rod; your choice of bait-casting or spin-casting reel (he likes a Shimano bait-casters and Daiwa spin-casters); and 14- or 17-pound Cajun Line Red.

Set drag: Wrap line around one hand and tug it while adjusting it so line pulls out easy enough to not break when a big fish strikes. A big red also can bend a hook and get free if the drag is too tight.

Slick details: Find the fish with a depth finder or look for slicks on the water and cast into them. Slicks give off an odor similar to watermelon, so use your nose, too.

Life cycle: In October through mid-November, expect females to be laying eggs near the rocks on the dam with males in the area. Freshwater reds do not reproduce but they go through the motions.

Depth: Vary depth of lure before retrieving by counting to five or 10 before reeling. If there are no bites after numerous tries, count to 15, 20 and so on to allow the lure to settle deeper.

Reel tips: Change retrieval, too — slow, medium and fast — at the different depths. Try jerking a couple of times to see if the fish prefer bait going up and down.

Lures: Change colors. Spoons always are good. Try silver, gold, gold/copper, chrome blue and chartreuse. “Anybody out there should have every color you can think of,” Martinez said. The Bomber Slab Spoon is hot now in a variety of colors from a half-ounce to an ounce. “Sometimes they want something big. Sometimes they want something small,” he said.

No strikes? Swap the lure for a different color and try again at the different depths.

No plastics: Do not use plastic worms. Spoons have more action and flash.

Hooks: To reduce the possibility of a big red straightening a hook, replace hooks that come with lures with a No. 5 treble by Mustad or VMC.

Whatever works best: When a combination begins producing fish, stay with it. “You will find fish, but I can’t guarantee you’ll hook the big one,” Martinez said.

Did you know?

Clients have come close to Martinez’s record, with a 27-pounder last year and one weighing 28 pounds in 2010. “We picked up a few 25-pounders in the summer, but the spawning is starting now, and it’s on fire,” he said. “Redfish bigger than mine are still out there. We’ve seen them. The way to beat the record is to be out there every day.”

Contact

• Call Manny Martinez of L&M Guide Service at 210-386-6695 or go online at fishingwithmanny.com

Seasoned Anglers of All Ages Enjoy Winter Catfish Action

By Ralph Winingham

Carefully bringing a chunky four-pound blue catfish into the net, veteran angler Sienna Martinez was all smiles with a slightly sore armas she took advantage of some winter catfish action at Calaveras Lake.

“I think the smaller catfish fight harder – they are more afraid of getting in the boat,’’ said the seven-year old Martinez, who has been fishing for both redfish and catfish since she was three.

“It kind of hurts my arm reeling them in, but I really like it,’’ she added.

The youngster was enjoying a chilly afternoon on the water with her father, Roland Martinez, on a trip with veteran Guide Manny Martinez.

In just about an hour, the young angler landed three nice blue catfish, including the four-pounder that was her first catch of the day, and four channel catfish ranging in size from about a pound and a half up to three pounds. Her father brought in one channel cat, but was happy to be out fished by his avid angler daughter.

“This is the third time we have been out this year,’’ he said. “She really loves it.”

The cold winter months are a prime time for anglers of all ages to venture onto Calaveras and Braunig lakes in search of Mr. Whiskers, according to the guide who has been plying his trade on the lakes for more than three decades.

“This is a particularly good time to bring out youngsters because the action can be really fast and furious. That keeps the youngsters on fish rather than just sitting in the boat – it is more fun for everyone,’’ he said.

Helping fire up the action this year is the operation of two of the three units at the Calaveras Lake CPS Energy power plant, which has increased the amount of warm water discharge into the reservoir. This discharge produces a bait-rich environment, resulting in an abundant food source for the catfish that can feed all year long.

Even when the air temperatures drop to the 30’s and 40’s during the winter months, the water temperature never dips below about 55-58 degrees. Any reading under about 65 degrees normally will result in some red-hot catfish action.

“Typically we will find a mix of channels and blues in the same area,’’ the guide said, pointing out that blue catfish are normally a little larger than their channel catfish cousins. Channel catfish being brought in normally weigh between 2-3 pounds, while blue catfish tend to tip the scales at 3-6 pounds, with 10-15 pounders occasionally giving anglers a good tussle.

The lake limit is 25 catfish of any combination for each angler and Martinez said the winter months are when quick limits are pretty common.

“There are thousands of catfish in the lake and we are seeing some huge schools at various places around the lake,’’ he added.

Early in the winter, catfish school in water about 12-15 feet deep and then move into shallower water of 3-4 feet deep as air temperatures plummet. Cold, cloudy days with light winds seem to be the optimum time for some hot action.

While Martinez is pretty secretive about the honey holes he has baited with a combination of horse and mule feed and cattle pellets – the scattered bait, particularly the large pellets, sink to the bottom and can attract catfish from quite a distance – he is open about his bait of choice.

Both channel and blue catfish seem to favor CJ’s Punch Bait or Big Marv’s Punch Bait, depending upon the fishing conditions, with original, minnow or shad flavors producing good action.

“One of the secrets is to use a very sharp hook and to replace the hook after about six or eight hook ups,’’ the guide said. Martinez has settled on a VMC 4X Strong No. 6 treble, molding a ball of the baitabout the size of a walnut around the hook.

With the colder water temperatures, the bait stays on the hook better in the winter than during the warm summer months. Fishing on the bottom in the deeper water and with a bobber holding the bait slightly off the bottom in the shallows both can produce some high quality fishing action.

Another tip that Martinez readily offers up is concerning how to remove the smell of the punch bait from an angler’s hands after a successful catfish trip.

“The secret to removing the smell from your hands is to wash with warm soapy water right after the trip and then rub your hands with toothpaste,’’ he said.

For more information on some cold weather catfish action, Martinez of L&M Guide Service can be reached at www.fishingwithmanny.com or by calling (210) 386-6695.

 

 

The clock is ticking for Calaveras and Braunig Lake redfish ready to fire up the action in their annual reproduction effort and the spawn alarm is just about to go off! This is the best time of year to hook into some massive redfish in both lakes.  Come get you some!

While their reproductive efforts in freshwater are fruitless, the redfish in Calaveras and Braunig Lakes go through the motions each fall with about mid-September through mid-October the prime time to be on the water.  There are good, healthy populations of the transplanted saltwater predators stocked at both lakes over the years, with both sight-casting and downriggers producing hefty hook-ups. Because of the slightly lower afternoon air temperatures, the water temperature at the lakes is hovering around the 85-90 degree range that puts redfish in a fighting and biting mood.   We are seeing big schools of redfish cruising in water about 15 to 25 feet deep when they are not on the surface busting bait fish.

In just a couple weeks are expecting male redfish to be full of sperm and the eggs in females to be near full development  — that is when the angling action will really kick into high gear. We give most of the credit to this big fish action to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department stocking program that has been so successful in making both Calaveras and Braunig Lakes the places to go in the Lone Star State for some top notch freshwater redfishing.

When the schools of redfish are chasing bait on the surface, the winning technique seems to be casting gold or silver spoons as far away from the boat as possible, letting the lure sink for a count of about 10-20.  When the lure is cranking in with a slow, steady retrieve, the redfish are regularly enticed into biting.  If the sight-casting action slows down, we can always rig up the old reliable downriggers for some few hefty hook-ups.

Based upon the unusual number of big blue cats that have been snagging our downrigger lures throughout the summer, we are anticipating some good catfish action later this year.  Cool weather catfishing can really be the bomb for outdoor enthusiasts willing to hit the lakes in the winter.

As always, our anglers will be offered a Fishing With Manny bonus of a free, emailed photo of your catch.  All our trophy shots will be taken with our Cannon Model EOS Rebel T3I digital camera and, if requested, we will send a copy to your email address for a picture-perfect portrait of your day on the water.  It is just another way for us to make each trip a memory of a lifetime!

We also feature Sirius Radio (about 240 channels) on our boat to help our anglers enjoy the day and to monitor the changing weather conditions. In addition, we provide a free I-Pod Samsung connection for our anglers to listen to tunes or check the web if they ever get a break in the action. Check out our calendar for available dates (a lot of weekends are already booked) and come on out for some hot action and good times on the water!

Call Us Today and Book Your Trip Now!

The redfish pre-spawn is just around the corner and with our surprise catch of very nice blue catfish on downriggers; September is looking like a double whammy month for Calaveras Lake action! While the redfish go through the motions of spawning (it can’t happen in fresh water) they attack sight-cast and downrigger lures with vigor. We are looking forward to some high quality time on the water this fall. Your limit is waiting!
About this time every fall, the redfish action explodes at Calaveras Lake and all signs indicate this fall may be one of the best ever. In addition to large schools of redfish getting ready to spawn, we are also finding large schools of blue catfish that are hitting downrigger lures on a regular basis. Most of the blues are in the five to 10 pound range, so they put up a good tussle and are a welcome bonus on our redfish trips. There are a world of blue catfish at Calaveras and with the falling water temperatures as summer subsides, we are expecting the action to really kick into high gear. While the summer water temperatures can hover at 100 degrees or better, the heat tones down in the fall and the fish-catching range of 85-90 degrees really seems to put both redfish and blue cats in a biting mood.IMG_0837

 

We expect the redfish spawning efforts to start slow and kick into high gear about the middle of September. At that point, sight-casting lures into schools that can churn up the surface of the lake as they attack bait fish often results in a lot of arm-testing hook ups. This type of big fish action is a testament to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department stocking program that has been so successful in making both Calaveras and Braunig Lakes the places to go in the Lone Star State for some top notch freshwater redfish action.

The technique that seems to produce the best catches is to cast gold or silver spoons as far away from the boat as possible, letting the lure sink for a count of 20. When the lure has almost reached the bottom, a slow, steady retrieve seems to entice the bite. If the casting action slows down, we can always rig up the old reliable downriggers for a few hefty hook-ups.
As always, our anglers will be offered a Fishing With Manny bonus of a free, emailed photo of your catch. All our trophy shots will be taken with our Cannon Model EOS Rebel T3I digital camera and, if requested, we will send a copy to your email address for a picture-perfect portrait of your day on the water. It is just another way for us to make each trip a memory of a lifetime!IMG_0566
We also feature Sirius Radio (about 240 channels) on our boat to help our anglers enjoy the day and to monitor the changing weather conditions. In addition, we provide a free I-Pod Samsung connection for our anglers to listen to tunes or check the web if they ever get a break in the action. Check out our calendar for available dates (a lot of weekends are already booked) and come on out for some hot action and good times on the water!
Call Us Today and Book Your Trip Now!

San Antonio is deep in the heart of Texas’ outdoor enthusiasts.

It’s smack-dab in the middle of fine inland and coastal angling opportunities as well as camping in dozens of state parks, and most of those have water features.

Redfish, a saltwater species, also thrives in freshwater lakes, such as Braunig and Calaveras. About 15 minutes from downtown, they are two of only three Texas lakes stocked with redfish, and Calaveras is known for producing many — and big ones.

The lake record was landed by fishing guide Manny Martinez of fishingwithmanny.com in 2008. It was 41 inches long and weighed 30 pounds. The action is on now and will be hot through the fall.

Choke Canyon, Lake Amistad and Falcon Lake are legendary for bass fishing.

Canyon Lake and the Guadalupe River and its chain of lakes also offer plenty of action.

Those freshwater lakes also produce blue and channel catfish, with the best fishing in the evenings and at night as the temperatures fall.

Two community lakes inside the city limits that offer good opportunities for perch and catfish, which will be stocked every two weeks from April through early November, are Miller’s Pond and Southside Lions Park.

More Information

On the web

Canyon Lake: http://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/canyon/

Corpus Christi: visitcorpuschristitx.org

Fishing guide Manny Martinez: fishingwithmanny.com

Port Aransas: portaransas.org

Padre Island National Seashore: nps.gov/pais

Rockport-Fulton: rockport-fulton.org

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department: tpwd.state.tx.us includes information on community lakes, state parks, fishing regulations and Texas Outdoor Family camping workshops

Saltwater fishing is about a three-hour drive to Aransas Pass, Rockport-Fulton, Port Aransas and the Upper Laguna Madre, which offer deep-sea fishing and boating, kayaking and wade fishing in the bays and lagoons for redfish, speckled trout and flounder.

Camping is as close as Government Canyon State Natural Area in northwest Bexar County, which last fall began allowing walk-in camping on Fridays and Saturdays.

Nearby state parks offer camping along with hiking, swimming, fishing, nature viewing and off-road biking. Most parks have primitive and drive-in camping with water and electricity and RV sites.

For camping newbies, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department conducts a series of Texas Outdoor Family workshops covering the basics with tent and gear provided for $65 for a family of up to six.

Garner State Park, on the spring-fed Frio River near Uvalde, is the most popular in the state.

Parks with rivers within a short drive up U.S. 281 are Guadalupe River State Park near Spring Branch, Blanco on the Blanco River and Pedernales Falls on the Pedernales River near Johnson City.

Mustang Island State Park, along with Padre Island National Seashore, allows camping by the dunes just a short, sandy walk from the Gulf of Mexico.

John Goodspeed is a freelance writer. Email him at john@johngoodspeed.com

 

By John Goodspeed

The morning was overcast with occasional drizzle, and the redfish were finicky — as if they weren’t wet already.

The four downriggers trolled a variety of lures that usually work on cloudy days at Calaveras Lake, silver spoons with red and yellow tape and dark plastics in deep colors such as purple and dark red.

After an hour of cruising near the dam and toward the CPS Energy power plant outlet and all points in between, guide Manny Martinez began switching lures and setting the downriggers’ depths to match the enormous schools of reds showing on the depth finder.

The morning before, two clients caught their limit of six in 30 minutes. The trio of anglers that afternoon scored nine in an hour and 15 minutes.

For us, though, at noon and after three hours, only four fish had taken the bait — two undersized stripers and two reds of about 22 inches on a Hogie Candy Cane.

“You have to keep changing colors,” Martinez said. “They can be very picky, and if they’re hitting on one color at noon it doesn’t mean they’ll still want it at 1.”

When two reds struck a 5-inch Hogie Golden Croaker, though, he switched the other three downriggers to it and the action was on, with fish on each pass through the school — and sometimes on three rods at the same time.

Within 45 minutes, the three anglers limited out with reds up to 28 inches, and a nearby fisherman landed a 17-pound red, proving what Martinez said earlier about plentiful fish between 22 and 34 inches.

“Calaveras is on fire right now,” said Martinez, who began guiding on Calaveras and Braunig lakes 30 years ago. “It’s the hot ticket. It’s the bomb. I’m seeing schools of reds bigger than I’ve ever seen in my whole career.”

The reason lies in the stocking numbers and the fact that redfish, a saltwater species, thrive in Calaveras.

A whopping 733,708 red drum fingerlings were released by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in 2008 followed by more than 220,000 in 2009, and those fish are 20 inches and longer now. Stockings of more than 655,000 in 2010 and some 621,000 in 2011 mean the action should continue over the next several years.

“Our gill net catch rate this year was the highest we had since 1999,” TPWD inland fisheries biologist John Dennis said. “Two years ago we got the second highest, and two years before that was the third highest.”

While the long-term average is 2.2 per night, in 2012 it was 5.8.

“We’re not only getting a lot but also a large number of bigger fish, 20 inches and longer,” Dennis said.

Redfish love warm water. Because of the mild winter and a sixth electrical generation plant added at Calaveras, the water temperature reached the mid-70s in February, and the action’s been on since then, Martinez said.

“There should be a good bite for reds through the fall,” Dennis said. “Now that it’s started, it’s real unlikely it’s going to stop. Redfish like hot water. It could be 102 degrees outside and the water temperature almost 100. Anglers may be miserable, but reds are as happy as can be.”

At Braunig, a smaller lake that received more than 270,000 fingerlings in 2008 and none in ’09, redfish action is slow while the electric plant is idle before the summertime demand. Until then, water temperature will depend on solar heating.

The only other lake TPWD stocks with reds is Lake Fairfield State Park east of Waco.

While anglers such as Martinez are wise to change baits until the fish bite, science cannot determine how to predict the right combination of factors, Dennis said.

“If I knew, I’d be a millionaire,” he said. “When they’re not biting and then they suddenly turn on, there are an unknown number of factors. It could be the time of day or Manny found what they were eating that day and used a similar lure.

“The color, wiggle and size of lure can make a difference. Sometimes it has to do with what’s available to eat. It’s a trigger response, and you have to find the right combination of what they’re looking for.”

That’s why the space below Manny’s seat looks like a tackle store.

“Every day has been different and you have to keep experimenting to see what’s working,” Martinez said.

But one thing is for sure for the rest of spring and summer.

“It will be explosive,” he said. “Calaveras is the king.”

John Goodspeed is a freelance outdoors writer. Email john@johngoodspeed.com.

DATA BANK

Calaveras redfish tactics

Downriggers: Good depth/fish finder is essential. Reds normally found between 15-20 feet. Try a variety of lures, including Hogies. On sunny days, use gold and silver spoons and plastics in chartreuse, glow in the dark with red tail and cockroach. On overcast days, use silver spoons and plastics in deep colors — purple, dark red and strawberry.

Trolling without downriggers: Depth finder a must. Use deep-diving crank bait 40-50 yards out, such as Bill Norman deep crank bait in green or yellow, Rat-L-Trap or the hook-less Heddon Hellbender Downrigger with lure running 10-20 feet behind. Vary speed until finding hits at right depth.

Shore: Redfish good in morning, late afternoon and night. Best bait now is live crawfish. Others include fresh shrimp with head on, live perch and tilapia and dead 3-to-4-inch shad. Cast and wait.

Online contacts

Calaveras Lake Park: braunig-calaveras.info

Manny Martinez: 210-386-6695 or fishingwithmanny.com

– John Goodspeed

By John Goodspeed
Special to the Express-News

Predicting what the fishing will be like in nine months is like next week’s weather forecast calling for rain — there may be a downpour, but it might not be in the right place.

In this case, fishing guide Manny Martinez is like the weatherman.

In July, Martinez expected a boom this spring for hybrid striper fishing at Calaveras Lake. He based it on landing more stripers than he had ever seen in 28 years of fishing there, with catches numbering between 20 and 50 on each trip through May.

Most were just a few inches shy of the 18-inch keeper size, meaning they would be ready for the frying pan during this spring’s feeding frenzy.

While those fish no doubt are big enough, they’re just not hungry enough.

Instead, the stripers turned on at Braunig Lake last weekend, with reports of numbers of limits of five between 18 and 22 inches. And Braunig, which receives fewer numbers of striper stockings because of its smaller size, is not known as a hot spot for striper fishing.

While Calaveras is producing some stripers, mostly near the banks, they have not hit like Martinez thought.

He thinks it has to do with the water temperature at Calaveras, the cooling lake for CPS Energy’s primary electrical generation site, which added a sixth plant last year.

Last spring, before the new plant began operating, the temperatures were cooler and more favorable for stripers. In March, though, temperatures quickly jumped through the 70s and now are between 80 and 90 degrees.

Not so at Braunig, where CPS rarely fires up the plant until electrical demands skyrocket in the summer. There, the water is still in the low 70s — perfect for stripers, which are less active in warmer temperatures.

“The trend we may see over the next few years is one of longer hybrid striper fishing at Braunig because it’s taking longer for the water to heat up in spring and summer, and a shorter hybrid striper season at Calaveras because it’s heating up so quickly,” said John Dennis, a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department freshwater fisheries biologist.

With so many undersized stripers caught at both lakes last year, “there is a potential for some really good fishing and some really good harvesting,” Dennis said.

The downside for Braunig, however, is that fishing for redfish is slow with the lower water temperatures.

Meanwhile, at the warmer Calaveras, redfish are gulping everything thrown their way.

“Fishing for spring has exploded, and Calaveras is the bomb,” Martinez said.

On trips last weekend, Martinez’s clients limited on reds between 22 and 30 inches and weighing from 5-15 pounds.

“Girth-wise, those fish were beautiful, and there was a lot of fat in them,” said Martinez, who landed the Calaveras record redfish of 41 inches in 2008.

Blue catfish at both lakes are still good along shorelines, reeds, rocks and in water between 2-3 feet, he said.

As for the stripers at Calaveras, the water temperature must have jumped over what they prefer too quickly and now they may be in spawning mode, he said.

“They’re not on, but they will be — trust me,” Martinez said, sounding not at all like a weatherman.

John Goodspeed is a freelance? outdoors writer and photographer.? E-mail john@johngoodspeed.com.

DATA BANK

Fishing tips

– Trolling with downriggers for hybrid stripers is a preferred method. Last weekend at Braunig Lake, they were hitting gold and silver spoons between 12-20 feet. At Calaveras, redfish like the same setup along with soft plastics in white and chartreuse.

– Bank anglers at Braunig and Calaveras lakes are finding success fishing for stripers with green and white soft plastic Storm Lures and chicken liver, also good for catfish. Also try cut shad and whole tilapia, which redfish like, too.

Online

– More information about Braunig and Calaveras lakes may be found at braunig-calaveras.info.

– Fishing guide Manny Martinez may be reached at 210-386-6695 or fishingwithman

By Ralph Winingham
Special to the Express-News

At this time of year, when most people are thinking about Christmas gifts and holiday fare, chunky channel catfish at Braunig Lake are having visions of a big blob of cheese bait floating down from above.

 

”If you want quantity, you go to Calaveras, but if you want quality, you come to Braunig,” said catfish guide Wesley Moseley of L&M Guide Service. “The best time to find good-sized channel cats stacked up along the rocks and in the reeds is during the winter and spring.”

Catches of 25-fish limits of channel cats, all in the 2-5 pound range, are common in the spots where Moseley has baited with a combination of horse and mule feed mixed with milo.

The concoction draws in channel catfish from across the lake and makes them eager to snap up treble hooks that have been dunked in the odorous Big Marv’s Cheese Bait.

”The warm water of the lake (discharged from the CPS Energy power plant), and the cold air temperatures put the catfish in a biting mood,” said Moseley, who has joined veteran redfish guide Manny Martinez in hooking up anglers with some rod-bending action.

While Moseley, 30, is a newcomer to the fishing guide business, Martinez has been working both Calaveras and Braunig for more than 26 years and is well skilled at finding redfish, stripers and keeper catfish.

During an early morning adventure at Braunig Lake when the air temperature was a chilly 36 degrees and the water temperature was a pleasant 69 degrees, the two guides backed their catfish-catching promises with plenty of action.

After dunking a No. 6 treble hook into the pungent bait with a screwdriver, Moseley cast his line about 18 inches from rocks lining one of the intake areas of the power plant. A big popping cork allowed the hook to drift along about 3-feet deep, and the current of the intake helped carry the bait down the rocky shoreline.

”You want to fish in water that is near the rocks and about 3-feet deep,” Moseley said. “If the current pulls your bait out into the deeper water (about 10-feet deep), you won’t catch anything.”

Just a few seconds after his cast put the cork next to the rocks, a hungry channel catfish sucked the float out of sight and Moseley set the hook with a skilled snap of his wrist.

The catfish’s fight for freedom put a hefty bend in the medium-action rod but was no match for the 20-pound Cajun Red line filling the spool of the bait-casting reel.

”The cats will all be about the same size. We don’t catch any small ones here,” Moseley said as he netted the chunky 2-pounder. “When we clean him, you will see that his belly is full of horse and mule feed. They just love that stuff.”

In less than two hours, 18 channel cats were brought into the boat, with two hookups at one time not uncommon. All of the fish weighed more than 2 pounds, and the biggest fish tipped the scales at just more than 5 pounds.

”They will all eat well,” Moseley said. “These fish don’t have a muddy taste at all.”

The cold weather catfish action will continue at Braunig Lake through the end of February, when redfish and stripers caught on downriggers — Martinez’s specialty — become anglers’ fish of choice.

”Catching catfish like this brings back memories of my childhood,” Martinez said. “I did this a lot when I was a kid. This is the kind of fishing that a lot of people really like. They just want to see that rod bend.”

Ralph Winingham is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. E-mail him at rwiningham@juno.com.